Austrian police have arrested an American woman sought in connection with the killing of her ex-husband, who died when a pipe bomb exploded in his car more than a decade ago, law enforcement officials said Friday.
The officials said that extradition proceedings have begun for the woman, Pamela Phillips, 52 of Aspen, Colo.
A police statement said an international warrant accuses her of paying a hit man $400,000 to kill her former husband, Tucson businessman Gary Triano. Triano died 13 years ago when the bomb destroyed his car north of Tucson in 1996.
Triano's mother, Toni Ferrara, told The Associated Press that she wept when she heard Phillips had finally been captured.
"I am very happy that Pam is caught, but I don't want her to have the death penalty, in part because I want her to be miserable for the rest of her life," said Ferrara, of Grass Valley, Calif., about 50 miles northeast of Sacramento. "She had no reason to kill my son except for the dang insurance money."
Suspected plot behind death
Authorities last year arrested Ronald Young, 67, after he was indicted in Triano's murder. Back then, local law enforcement officials said that like Young, Phillips will face murder charges on accusations that she paid Young to kill Triano to get a $2 million life insurance policy.
The brief police statement said she was detained after midnight Thursday in a hotel in Vienna's upscale 19th district, a leafy area of luxury apartments and stately villas.
The mass circulation daily Kurier said she was with an unidentified male companion at the time of her arrest.
"The woman did not want to say anything about her identity at first but the case was clear after we found her passport," Kurier quoted an unidentified policeman involved in the operation as saying.
It said police initially got involved after her driver filed a complaint because of back wages he was owed by Phillips.
Both police and officials with the Vienna prosecutor's office declined to discuss the Kurier report or provide further details.
Authorities trace steps
Announcing Young's arrest late last year, Sheriff Clarence Dupnik of Pima County in Arizona said authorities believe Phillips first flew to London and then caught a Sept. 26 flight to Milan, Italy. Kurier said she then flew on to Switzerland, where her trail was lost.
Triano was a real estate broker and developer who made millions investing in Indian bingo halls and slot-machine parlors in Arizona and California before Congress authorized tribes to open full-blown casinos. He hosted Donald Trump to a University of Arizona football game, rode in luxury cars, gave money to charity and briefly ran for the City Council. Once he sued Pan American World Airways because his $4,410 airline seat didn't satisfy him as he jetted overseas.
After the real estate market declined and he lost control of his gaming interests, Triano went broke. In 1994 bankruptcy filings, he listed assets of $1.3 million and debts of nearly $26.8 million.
Triano died Nov. 1, 1996, when his borrowed Lincoln Town Car exploded as he was leaving a country club.
Someone within "line of sight" of Triano remotely detonated a pipe bomb filled with one pound of gunpowder, Dupnik told reporters last year.
Triano and Phillips, who had two children together, were married for seven years and divorced in 1993.